Time for a different genre of music, I do like my rock and Indie…….but ska, that is my secret passion! Who doesn’t love a bit of ska music, it has the feel good factor and you just can’t help but dance.
It was a bit of a mission to get to Great Portland street, it was Saturday, and yes you guessed right, tube lines are shut due to improvement work!….I know it needs doing, but it is still frustrating!
Once there we went straight into the 299 Club thinking it would be really busy as we were running late. But no, Selecter weren’t playing till 10:30pm….so hardly any people yet. That was fine, time to go to the loo and get a drink; we put ourselves near the front to the stage left (just for a change) and waited. We didn’t have to wait long; the stage was made ready for the first support band. It is always hard to be the first band out, especially when there aren’t many people. They did well, all girls (one male), but it wasn’t quite for me….but that is just me, I have said it 100 times: female voices don’t do it so much for me. I did spot members of The Selecter standing and watching, they were enjoying it…..even Pauline Black made a quick appearance. The Selecter was part of the ska revival movement, together with The Specials and Madness.….
By the time the second band,The Emperials were ready to skank a lot more people had turned up, we decide to move a bit nearer to the front of the stage, we don’t want to be missing out on anything. When the band started we first though, hmmmmm, this is not sounding promising! But, I’m glad to say, they proved us wrong, they escalated into a frenzy of punk/ska covers and got the crowd dancing and singing, they did some awesome covers of Madness’s “slow boat to Cairo” and also The Skatalites’s “Guns of Navarone”. They come from Bristol and have been performing for 10 years now, if you ever come across them at a venue near you go and see them…..these guys deserve to be seen, they were brilliant!
They leave us wanting more, the crowd has now grown considerably, and even though some people look a bit mean, big burly men that have already downed a vast amount of beer, there is no feeling of aggression around us; just people have great fun, dancing and laughing. It just proves it yet again what influence music has, ska/reggae/latin music definitely have the “feel good” factor, metal/rap/some rock I find aggressive at times which reflects in the crowd, and of course there is the lovey-dovey stuff you’d rather not go on your own….lol!
Something is happening, the crowd is getting restless, yes, and The Selecter is about to come onto stage, all 8 of them! They start with “The Selecter”…..all together including the encore there are 20 tracks, “train to skaville” “James Bond” ” They make me mad” of course “on my radio”, the finish would be “my Collie”! How much energy is on that stage and off? Pauline Black doesn’t look any different than she did over 20 years ago, how does she do that? The selector were one of the most successful ska bands of the 2 Tone era, and they don’t seem to have lost their zest for the music like some bands do when they have been going for many many years. Pauline Black and Arthur ‘Gaps’ Hendrickson do perform brilliantly together, there seemed to be a trust and familiarity between them that gives you the feeling of it being a family affair. The glances and smiles between all the band members prove a well established harmony between all of them, and that reflects on the fans, everybody is having a great time. Nobody is getting annoyed, even when the “rude” boys at the front got a bit rowdy. We decided at that point to move to the side of the stage and let them get on with it. Here I must give praise to the only security guard at the front, he was amazing! He let everybody have a good time and just pointed out once or twice to be careful of others! Even when the moshing started he let them get on with it and just made sure everybody was safe…with a smile on his face (that is quite rare…lol)!
Pauline and Gaps did help the atmosphere to escalate, leaning into the crowd, making them sing into the mic. One young lady managed to get lifted onto stage, dancing in between Pauline and Gaps; she was left for a little while before the security guards moved her. Just in case you need confirmation of how amazing the gig was, my friend Neil (who get’s tired quickly these days…for reasons I have mentioned in an earlier blog) decided to go and rest a little while leaning against the wall…….but, that lasted all of about 2 minutes and he was back on floor.
I also saw the first band join in big time, they are of course far to young to remember them the first time round, but you see, music has no age or boundaries.
It feels like the gig is over before it began, Neil and I are knackered, sweaty (why do I bother doing hair and make-up?) but feeling good! I managed to get the attention of one of the Saxophone players in front of me before he went off the stage…. you know what I’m after, don’t you? Yes you, the reader……the set list of course, and I got it!!
We decided to hang around a little while; Pauline did say she would come out to the merch stand to sign things. And there she is, still looking immaculate, I’m jealous….lol! We wait our turn and eventually we get to speak to her, she signed my set list and poses for a photo with Neil……what a lovely person, what perfect person/fan skills……..
Selecter, thank you for a brilliant evening, for me, you are up there is the top 3 of best gigs so far this year. Come back soon!
PS: If you are planning to catch The Selecter, please be aware that there are two versions of the Selector touring, the other one is Neol Davies aka the Selecter. (it is that one playing the International Ska Festival) , both were in the original band with “gaps”.